February Aces; No. 1 UCLA Women Beat No. 2 USC 4-3; Feature on JTCC's Ray Benton; USTA Spring National 18s Acceptances
My monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network was posted today, with the emphasis on college indoor tennis and the many titles won last month by former college players and teenage girls. The Division III Women's Team Indoor is this weekend in DePauw Indiana, so that winning team has yet to be decided, but you can follow the results at the ITA's website. The University of Chicago is the No. 1 seed; No. 2 seed Denison and No. 3 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scrips have already lost in today's opening round.
The week's biggest dual match in Division I was in Los Angeles, where No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 USC met yesterday for the second time in three weeks. The Bruins had beaten the Trojans 4-0 in the semifinals at the Team Indoor, but playing on USC's home court, the match came down to the final point, with UCLA freshman Chanelle Van Nguyen beating freshman Gabrielle DeSimone 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 5 to give her team a 4-3 win. UCLA won the doubles point and got its other two points from Robin Anderson(1) and Kaitlin Ray(6). This match doesn't count in the Pac-12 standings, with the two teams meeting again in April in a match that will.
I do regular freelance work for the USTA Florida publication, which is no longer a supplement in TennisLife, but its own digital magazine, Play Tennis Florida. The photo and caption I submitted for the March issue is of Van Nguyen, who distinguished herself in her first few weeks as a Bruin at the Team Indoor, and was named to the all-Tournament team. That article can be found on page 33 via this link.
Every person who has made a career around the sport of tennis has a story to tell, and Steve Fogleman, of TennisMaryland.com, has relates Ray Benton's, the CEO of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. Benton has seen tennis from every imaginable perspective, as Fogleman reveals in this profile. I have an article about JTCC product Mitchell Frank coming out on Monday at the Tennis Recruiting Network, so I've had conversations with Benton and Director of Tennis Vesa Ponkka in the past few days, as well as with Frank Salazar, who has returned to College Park, where he spent over a decade, after a year at the Racquet Club of the South. It's always a treat to talk to people who care about the sport as much as they do, and I'm sure Fogleman heard a great many stories he couldn't fit into this feature, but will never forget.
For the eighth consecutive year, I will be covering the USTA 18s Spring Nationals in Mobile, which begin a week from Sunday. The acceptances were posted Thursday, and both Winter National champions, Jamie Loeb and Jared Hiltzik, have entered. For the complete list of entries, see the TennisLink site.